EAST COUNTY — For Maribeth Phillips, it’s hard to imagine an effort among her friends and family to fill shoeboxes with supplies for seniors three years ago has become not only a family affair but also a community one.
And the tradition just keeps getting bigger.
This year’s event, the Community Shoe Box Reception, will be held from 3-6 p.m., Dec. 13 at the Polo Grill and Bar, 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch.
Admission is at least one shoe box filled with toiletries, personal hygiene products, books and other items for seniors or a $20 donation to Meals on Meals. Entry includes one free drink, complimentary hors d’oeuvres, piano music by Mickey White of “Ranch Dawgs,” and entry into numerous raffle drawings. Santa will arrive at 4:30 p.m.
All shoe boxes will be delivered during the holiday season to needy seniors through Meals on Wheels. Any leftover boxes will go to other senior organizations for disbursement.
“We’d love to get at least 1,000 shoe boxes this year,” said Phillips, a co-chair for the event. “Christmas is about children, but it’s also a wonderful time to acknowledge the senior community, who I think sometimes gets overlooked.”
The effort began in late 2006 when Phillips and fellow event chair Alice Hein got their friends and families together to make shoe boxes for seniors. That year, the group made 37 boxes. It has grown every year since, with last year’s event at three Gio’s restaurant locations collecting more than 700 boxes. This year, Polo Grill and Bar owners Jaymie and Tommy Klauber agreed to host the event and are providing the space, food and drink for attendees.
“(The shoe boxes are) such an easy way for people to help out,” Phillips said. “I’m excited to see how many people we can touch. These have been tough years on people, and it’s a nice thing to do.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
Community Shoe Box Reception
WHEN: 3-6 p.m., Dec. 13
WHERE: The Polo Grill and Bar, 10670 Boardwalk Loop
BENEFITS: Needy seniors in Manatee County
COST: A shoe box filled with personal hygiene and other items for senior citizens or a $20 donation to Meals on Wheels
CONTACT: The Polo Grill, 782-0899
How to fill a shoe box
1. Wrap the top and bottom of a shoe box separately.
2. Decide whether your gift will be for a female, a male or either. Make a tag. Specify which gender the box is for and attach the tag to the top of the shoe box.
3. Fill the shoe box with new gifts such as toiletries and personal hygiene items, toothbrush, toothpaste, lotions, socks, slippers, books, puzzles, stationary, pen, umbrella, playing cards and hard candy. Please do not include items that may break, leak or melt.
4. Place a rubber band around the shoebox and lid and include the gender tag.
5. Bring your shoebox to the Polo Grill and Bar.
Ranch students lend support
After last year’s shoe box event, Lakewood Ranch High School Family Career and Community Leaders of America members Rebecca Stoll and Jasmine Bridges adopted the project for their chapter service project display. The girls won gold medals for the project in both state and national competitions.
“It made us want to get more involved this year,” Stoll said. “We like this shoe box project because it’s geared more toward the elderly. Especially in Florida, it’s important.”
Both girls are helping put on this year’s community event.
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